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The KT Wong Foundation, Cape Town Opera and Camerata Tinta Barocca present an International Baroque Recital and Masterclass with guest star Lawrence Zazzo.
Baroque vocal music has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years in Cape Town, both in concert (with period instrument ensemble Camerata Tinta Barocca leading the way) and on stage (with Cape Town Opera’s recent forays into repertoire by Monteverdi and Purcell). Beyond the Cape, selections from Handel operas and oratorios are now sung widely by community choirs, and by high school learners in the wide-reaching South African Schools Choral Eisteddfod – and virtuoso Baroque arias are increasingly within the sights of many of the excellent young singers emerging from the country. With this burgeoning interest in Baroque vocal music, young South African singers are increasingly seeking guidance and coaching from experts in this repertoire – a skillset which is largely absent in the country.
The KT Wong Foundation is a charitable organisation that defines itself through its ground-breaking work as it seeks to broaden international understanding and cooperation through arts and arts education. The Foundation has a track record of supporting opera around the world with a particular focus on productions of Handel operas including Giulio Cesare and Ariodante at Glyndebourne Festival and the Festival d’Aix en Provence.
It is a natural fit, in its first partnership with Cape Town Opera, for the KT Wong Foundation to initiate and support a visit to Cape Town by American counter-tenor Lawrence Zazzo, one of the world’s leading exponents of Baroque opera. Mr Zazzo’s extensive roster of roles by Monteverdi, Handel, Gluck and 20th-century composers has won him acclaim at the world’s greatest opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, La Monnaie and the Bayerische Staatsoper. He collaborates regularly with world’s foremost conductors in the field of Baroque music, including René Jacobs, William Christie, Rinaldo Alessandrini, Christophe Rousset, and Alan Curtis. In addition, Mr Zazzo starred in the highly acclaimed production of Semele co-produced by the KT Wong Foundation for La Monnaie in Brussels and revived at both the Brooklyn Academy of Music BAM in New York and in Beijing.
On 17 February, Mr Zazzo will share the stage at Centre for the Book with two young South African sopranos, Lynelle Kenned and Brittany Smith, and the musicians of Camerata Tinta Barocca. The concert features repertoire from some of Handel’s greatest operas including Orlando, Rodelinda, Giulio Cesare and Alcina.
During his visit to Cape Town, Mr Zazzo will give a master class, featuring six promising young South African singers (including CTO Artists Thando Zwane and Makudupanyane Senaoana), for an audience of singing students from the University of Cape Town, the Cape Town Opera Young Artist Programme, music teachers and coaches, and members of the public.
This visit to Cape Town by one of the world’s leading lights in Baroque repertoire promises to bring expert knowledge to local musicians and foster new network connections for the geographically isolated Baroque performance scene in South Africa. Mr Zazzo’s visit and this first partnership between the KT Wong Foundation, Cape Town Opera and Camerata Tinta Barocca offers the public a rare opportunity to see one of the world’s greatest vocalists sharing the stage with young local talent.